Defining Françafrique by François XavierVerschave
This brief summary is based on an article published in a special dossier of the reviewMouvements ("Movements", May 2002), "De la Françafrique à la mafiafrique" ("From Françafrique to mafiafrique"). My main works on the subject are La Françafrique (Stock, 1999), Noir silence ("Black silence") and Noir Chirac ("Black Chirac") (les arènes, 2000 and 2002),and L’envers de la dette ("The other side of the debt", Agone, 2001).
At the beginning of 1994 I coined the term "Françafrique" to describe the tip of the iceberg thatis Franco-African relations, and went on to develop this concept in approximately twenty booksand special reports. Here, briefly, I shall explain what the term refers to : the secret criminality inthe upper echelons of French politics and economy, where a kind of underground Republic ishidden from view.In 1960, events forced De Gaulle to grant independence to the French colonies of black Africa.This newly-proclaimed international legality was the unsullied tip of the iceberg : France as the best friend of Africa, development and democracy. Meanwhile, Jacques Foccart, "the man in theshadows", was given the task of maintaining dependence, using inevitably illegal, secret andshameful methods. He selected heads of state who were "friends of France" - through war (morethan 100 000 civilians massacred in Cameroon from 1956 on; the Madagascan resistance was broken in 1947 by carnage of a similar magnitude), assassination or electoral fraud. To theseguardians of the neo-colonial order, Paris offered a share of the income from raw materials anddevelopment aid. Military bases, the CFA franc which could be exchanged in Switzerland, thesecret services and the outwardly-innocent businesses acting on their behalf (Elf and numeroussupply or "security" companies) completed the system.And so began forty years of pillage, support for dictatorships, dirty tricks and secret wars - fromBiafra to the two Congos. Rwanda, the Comoros, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Chad,Togo and others will bear the scars for many years to come. Gorged, burnt-out dictators, up totheir eyeballs in debt, could no longer promise development, and so they brandished their final